10 Less-Travelled Mexico Destinations
Mexico is a massive country with a vast cache of treasures and pleasures still waiting to be discovered by savvy world travelers. Here are a few fabulous places to start, but better hurry to these lesser known regions as they might not remain undiscovered for long!
Close to Cabos San Lucas in Baja California Sur, Todos Santos was once a thriving sugar plantation region. Today, it’s a bohemian surfer’s haven with a thriving artist’s colony and a cosmopolitan foodie scene. Canadian travel blogger Colleen Friesen says, “Little downtown ‘Pescaderia’ has the best fish tacos on the planet!” Hotel California is worth a visit for great food and live music, though sadly, not the Eagles song’s inspiration. For an offbeat boutique-style stay, Hotel Casa Tota is the spot. Looking for an adult-only environment? Oceanfront luxury lives at Rancho Pescadero, which is also ideal for spot for winter whale-watching.
Two hours from Mexico City, Puebla’s own city centre is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. A colourful mosaic of cultures, its cosmopolitan centre is still cloaked in the grandeur of a rich colonial past, and nearby you’ll find the world’s largest pyramid at Cholula, topped by a church. Families will enjoy spacious grounds at the Puebla Marriott, while those seeking a more intimate stay will appreciate El Sueño Hotel and Spa. This region is also famous for its intricately designed Talavera pottery, which you’ll see at every turn. Plus, Puebla is also a thriving university town.
Secreted away on the Pacific Coast in the state of Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido means “hidden port”, and beyond dedicated surf culture visitors, was not on the tourism radar. But now, due to its admirable safety record and wallet-friendly prices, more people are discovering its charms. You’ll often see whales during their migration season right from the cliff-top if you stay at Villas Carrizalillo, and families will appreciate the full kitchens at Casamar Suites. Canadian travel writer Michele Peterson recently bought a second home there. She says, “We adore the authentic Mexican culture, bustling outdoor food market and endless beaches here.”
This little known Pacific Coast region in Mexico‘s Oaxaca State is the most bio-diverse in the country and boasts a Green Globe Certification for sustainable tourism. Eco-attractions and wildlife galore grace nine pristine bays linked by dramatic rocky cliffs leading to lush rain-forested mountains. Tour pre-Hispanic ruins at Copalita Eco-Archaeological Park, explore coffee plantations or snorkel and dive resplendent reefs… it’s all there. For upscale adult-only, Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa is ideal, while Dreams Huatulco Resort & Spa is the family choice. And for a unique ancient beauty ritual, enjoy a natural mud treatment at Playa Bocana, the surfer’s beach.
San Miguel de Allende
Located in the highlands, San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World heritage site and one of central Mexico’s most picturesque and best-preserved colonial towns. Irene S. Levine, creator of More Time to Travel says, “Tourists come to San Miguel to walk its narrow cobblestone streets and enjoy its perfect weather. And there’s something interesting to see at every corner.” Romantics will enjoy luxury boutique Hotel Matilda, while families and groups will fare well at Rosewood San Miguel de Allende. Must-tour spots include the Jardin Park, the market (Mercado Ignacia Ramirez) and its parish church, La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel.
San Cristobal de las Casas
In a mountain-flanked valley in Chiapas State, San Cristobel de la Casas offers a kaleidoscopic experience of cultures and a well-preserved example of early Spanish colonialism. Chock full of museums, churches, and colourful markets there are many sides of this cultural center to explore. Judy Karwacki, owner of Small Planet Travel, says, “You really must wander the barrios on foot to discover amazing local artisans creating things in the old traditional ways.” If you want to stay in the heart of the city, Casa Felipe Flores is a good choice. For a more natural setting, Hotel de la Alborado, just outside of town, is ideal.
Though Cozumel is a popular cruise ship port of call, it’s a world apart from its mainland neighbours. And though there are many large resorts like adult-only Secrets Aura Cozumel and family-friendly Presidente InterContinental Cozumel Resort & Spa, it still retains a small community feel. But most of all, it is a diver’s dream, boasting the second-largest barrier reef in the world with the over 250 species of tropical fish to discover. Travel writer Cathy Whitlock says, “Cozumel can be lively during the day, but it often retires early as so many people take early morning dives.”
Pacific coast Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo can be bundled as sister destinations since they are only six kilometres apart. Go! Destination Marketing‘s Mark Rogers says, “The beach and properties in Ixtapa are absolutely beautiful, but ‘Zihua’ is a more authentic escape.” Zihuatanejo’s Playa Municipal still has the color of a small Mexican fishing village, and offers mostly small boutique-style stays, while Ixtapa is filled with large resorts like Sunscape Dorado Pacifico Ixtapa. Golf, diving, and fishing are popular pastimes, and there are also bike rentals and an 8.25 km cycling path runs throughout the region.
Just two hours west of Mexico City, the tiny state of Tlaxcala is awash with interesting sites for history buffs and nature lovers. Towering twin volcanoes, restored hacienda estates and pristine fertile valleys abound. The area is best explored by day trips. Ideal home bases include Hacienda Soltepec or Posada la Casona de Cortés. Cacaxtla Archeological Site has some of the best preserved pre-Hispanic mural paintings in the world, while Huamantla Historic Center boasts a National Puppet Museum! During the summer, visit the natural wonder of the Firefly Sanctuary to witness thousands of fireflies lighting up the forests at night.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital city boasts an abundance of well-preserved ancient ruins and colonial treasures. Choice spots to stay include
Casa Catrina and Hotel Parador Santo Domingo. But beyond being a bastion of history, Oaxaca is also home of the never-ending fiesta! Ex-pat Montrealer Suzanne Barbezat of Discover Oaxaca Tours says, “Colourful celebrations abound almost daily, and their exuberant ‘Day of the Dead’ festivities are out of this world!” The region is also known for its food, especially mole sauces and tamales. But their most famous local specialty? Fried grasshoppers!